Skip to main content

Mikel Arteta wants committed captains at Arsenal

Mikel Arteta has no plans to change Arsenal’s leadership group for now, but also admits it is important the captains are committed to the club long-term.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has worn the armband for the Gunners since Granit Xhaka was stripped of the captaincy in November following his outburst against supporters during the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in October.

It leaves the forward, Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil as the remaining players in the original five-man leadership group under Unai Emery, who held a blind ballot amongst his squad to decide the skipper for this season.

Aubameyang has this week been linked with a move to Real Madrid and only has 18 months left on his contract, but new head coach Arteta insisted “I don’t even think about that possibility” before discussing the importance of the armband.

See more

He said: “The more stability we can generate with our captain and the players we have in the squad, I think the more clarity we will have to transmit to the fans what we are trying to do.

“There are many factors, some we cannot control, but at the moment everything is OK and not the time for me to change things in place because I haven’t seen real things to make the decisions.

“I have been at clubs that have four or five captains. It is more a leadership group than captains. At the end it is one guy wearing the armband and after the team picks the leaders.

“The moment they pick the leaders is when someone talks if they listen or they are looking at the roof. That is when you see.”

Mikel Arteta, centre, captained Arsenal during his playing career

Mikel Arteta, centre, captained Arsenal during his playing career (Nick Potts/PA)

Arteta captained Arsenal during his five-year spell as a player at the Emirates and the FA Cup encounter with Leeds on Monday brings back good memories for the Spaniard.

He first led the Gunners on January 9, 2012 when the Championship club made the trip to London in the third round of the competition.

It was the return of Thierry Henry and he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win, but Arteta, who only signed for Arsene Wenger the summer before, felt honoured to skipper Arsenal that day before doing so on a regular basis during his final two seasons with the club.

“I didn’t know,” he admitted. “I arrived and I had the armband next to my t-shirt. I asked Arsene ‘boss, this is here, is it a mistake?’ He said ‘no, you are the captain’ and I was like OK, good.

“It felt incredible. I wasn’t here a long time and he put a lot of faith in me just when I arrived. I was very privileged and honoured.”

Arteta, having known what it takes to captain Arsenal to success, is eager to avoid cliques at the club.

He added: “The leadership many times is related to how this team lives together.

“The moment you start to see different groups, they have leaders in this groups, but they are not shared in the best common interests of the group and this is what I wanted to avoid.

“We have some leaders, some are more leaders on the pitch and some more outside the pitch. Some have influence to players that is very necessary. We want to bring all together.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

FourFourTwo was launched in 1994 on the back of a World Cup that England hadn’t even qualified for. It was an act of madness… but it somehow worked out. Our mission is to offer our intelligent, international audience access to the game’s biggest names, insightful analysis... and a bit of a giggle. We unashamedly love this game and we hope that our coverage reflects that.